navy blue accent wall

How to Paint Without Painter’s Tape

Before we moved into our house, I knew I wanted a green wall in our living room. I was driving to my parents in the rain one day and was inspired by the gray skies making all of the vegetation vibrantly green. The first house we toured in our neighborhood while house shopping had a navy accent wall in the guest room. When we ended up buying our house, a navy accent wall was the first painting related decision we made. With accent walls in my plans, I needed to learn how to paint neatly without wonky lines.

I did not use painter’s tape for anything I painted in our house, and I’ve painted the main floor and the upstairs, including 3 accent walls. Basement, you’re next! Pulling back painter’s tape to find paint bleed terrified me. Painting is hard work, and having to redo it when you think your done is not something I wanted to experience. Not to mention, taping everything is incredibly time consuming. I knew I didn’t have the patience to do that well.

[If you’re wondering about the flooring change in any of the pictures, you can read my review of our experience with Empire Today.]

In every room I painted the ceiling and trim first, that way if I messed up and got paint on the walls, my mistakes would be painted over. I made sure there was an overlap of trim paint onto the wall, and the same with ceiling paint. This ensured when I painted with my new wall color, that none of the old wall color would show through at the edges. In both of the pictures above, you can see the bright white ceiling and trim paints overlapping onto the wall edges at the top and bottom, respectively.

The trim I painted solely with an angled sash brush. The more trim I painted, the better I got at my precision with a brush. Cutting in around all of our windows really helped with that. A little practice and patience, and you’ll have skills! (Sarah from the Ugly Duckling House has a nice tutorial on this.) For the ceilings, I cut in with a sash brush (making sure to get ceiling paint on the walls), and Mr. PC did the majority of the rolling. Watching Diners, Drive Ins, & Dives makes painting more enjoyable. It also makes you hungry.

Walls are by far the most satisfying part of painting for me, but they can also be the most nerve wracking. There’s an instant gratification of the color you’ve chosen coming to life. But the bolder the color, the more obvious mistakes and wonky lines will be. That’s where a paint edger comes in handy. I used an edger for the top and bottom of every wall. For accent walls, I used it on the left and right sides as well.

I used the brush to brush paint onto the edger. After watching a video online about dabbing the edger into the paint and forcing excess off like you would a roller, I found that caused paint to end up on the wheels and build up along the edges and this did not give me crisp lines. I experimented with how much paint to brush on, starting with less paint and working my way up. If you have too much paint on the edger pad it will squish out and leave globs. I think its better to have too little paint than to have too much.

After outlining a section with the edger at the top, I rolled paint from top to bottom. As I neared the bottom, I used the edger along the trim. The texture of the edger pad is different than the texture the roller. Sometimes the edger didn’t achieve the coverage I wanted and left things streaky. For both problems I used the brush to even things out. Painting over the edger work with the brush was still easier and more efficient than cutting in by hand.

Paint colors were something I thought over for a long time. Our kitchen area was a yellow that was way too bold, and as much as I like color, I didn’t want to regret having such in your face colors. The previous owners must have regretted that yellow. Yuck. I’m so happy with the way everything came out and still love my color choices! I’ve linked our paint color choices below in case anyone is curious. I did a post dedicated to our closet that talks about painting, as well as the details on how we built our closet.

These paint chips hung for at least a week. It took me 3 trips to the paint store and a few sample cans before I decided upon the light gray that is the majority of our house. My magnetic travel map now hangs where these paint chips were.

All of the paint we bought was Sherwin Williams SuperPaint. As you may have read in our closet post, we bought all of our paint when it was on a 40% off sale. Not all of the colors we chose are SW colors. You can have any brand paint color made up at any paint store you’d like.

What’s your favorite accent wall color?


  • Kaleigh

    I’m incredibly impressed you didn’t have any drop cloths down. I feel like we got so much paint everywhere when we did our bedroom. But then it’s easier to clean off wood than carpet. I’m eager to paint our basement now and thinking how awesome it would be to not have to use all that blue painters tape.

    • periodicallycreative

      It helped that I got to practice over carpet that we knew we were replacing in a few weeks! After that just being slow and steady kept everything clean.

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